The beginning of a new church year!
With Advent we look back at the coming of God in Christ, but also forward to God’s completion of all that God commenced among us in Christ.
On the cover of the Order of Service this Sunday I have placed a photo of one of the large mosaics on high in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, a image of Christ as ‘Pantocrator’, ‘Ruler of All’ – with the shimmering light, we are reminded of the beauty and authority of the one who has defeated death and is at work to bring human history together for good.
I thought this life of expectation might be explored through some of the great hymns of Advent, beginning this Sunday with one by Phillip Doddridge ‘Hark the glad sound, the Saviour comes, the Saviour promised long’.
Doddridge wrote this poem in 1735 after reflecting upon Jesus’ first sermon, in his hometown of Nazareth, when he quoted the words of the prophet Isaiah ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor’, and then declared ‘Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing'(Luke 4:16-22).
What I appreciate most about the hymn is the present tense … ‘the Saviour comes’ … ‘you come the prisoners to release’ … ‘you come the broken heart to bind’.
With Jesus ‘coming’, the only real question is how I will receive him, how I am shaping my life to welcome him and the realm of peace and justice he is bringing for all. If you are in the area, I invite you to join us for a service of Advent worship and reflection. There is a nursery for infants and a children’s programme offered during the service, if desired. If you are driving there is free parking available in a civic surface lot off Queen just behind the church and on the streets around (the time of day restrictions on Clergy north of Queen are not in effect on Sundays).
Have a look at the Order of Service below, and please consider each of the announcements as a personal invitation to grow in Christian faith, community and service.